Electric vehicles: expectations vs reality

electric mobilityIn March 2012 we published some expectations for the electric mobility market in the coming years. Yet, recent numbers show that in reality these expectations are not being fulfilled. Are there any reasons that could explain this fact?

The expectations of the number of electric vehicles (EV’s) that will be sold in the Netherlands varied per source.In the best case, around 85 per cent of cars being sold in 2050 are electric. In the worst scenario this percentage is almost 40. A generally accepted figure is that by 2015, 15% of the annual car sales in this country will be EV’s. This would be approximately 75.000 cars in absolute terms. Last numbers (September 2013) show an absolute number of 13.144 electric cars. With a sales rally to the end of the year, the total number of EV’s sold in the Netherlands can end up somewhere around 20.000. To expect the total yearly number to grow to 75.000 in the coming two years would maybe be a bit optimistic.

What could be reasons for this disillusion? Maybe we can find them by looking at Santa Monica in the U.S. where electric mobility could be a real success. The average income of their citizens is pretty high, so they can afford the higher upfront costs. Besides, a lot of charging points are being installed which even offer free electricity. But even there, in a wealthy, environmentally conscious city, only a core group of owners has switched from traditional gasoline-powered cars. Less than 4 percent of registered cars run only on battery power, according to an analysis by the industry researcher Edmunds.com of data from R.L. Polk, which records vehicle registrations nationwide.

Automaker’s push to sell electric cars “has sparked sales to early adopters but has failed to encourage mainstream consumers,” said Jean François Tremblay, director at Ernst & Young’s Global Automotive Center. Higher sticker prices, shorter ranges and a lack of a national network of charging stations are among the reasons why consumers are shying away from buying electric vehicles in favour of gasoline engines, Mr. Tremblay said.

So, according to Mr. Tremblay the well-known “range-anxiety” and the higher upfront costs are still a threshold, apparently even if the people are affluent and the charging infrastructure is sufficient. What do you think are reasons for EV sales are not as high as expected?

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